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Metro Drug Coalition unveils plans for new recovery community center

The $1.2 million project will offer a new approach to recovery support in Knox County.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Metro Drug Coalition leaders announced plans for a new recovery community center at a fundraising breakfast Friday morning. 

"The Gateway" will offer a variety of resources including family support groups, recovery coaching and life-skills training, as well as art and music therapy. 

Metro Drug Coalition executive director Karen Pershing said it is meant to help recovering addicts get additional support and build a recovery community.

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"The disease of addiction is a disease of isolation," Pershing said. "We have to get them to keep from isolating again, because if they do isolate, they're going to be much more at risk of starting to use substances again."

She also hopes the center can help decrease the stigma surrounding addiction.

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"My hope is that is becomes a very welcoming place for all of those who have been touched by substance use disorders," Pershing said. "It's also a place for people to rebuild their lives."

The plans for the new center are based on The Zone in Marietta, Georgia, an existing community center for recovering addicts. 

The Zone CEO Missy Owen said she lost her son Davis to the opioid crisis. Since then, she's dedicated her life to fighting the epidemic and educating others.

"Connection is the opposite of addiction," Owen said. "The Zone is a peer recovery place and people in recovery help other people find their way."

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The Zone provides a safe place for recovering addicts to hang out and learn critical skills. 

District Attorney General Charme Allen said that type of environment will fit in Knoxville well.

"We are embracing this because in a community that embraces recovery, people get well," she said. "People get sober in treatment, but people remain well in recovery."

The project is estimated to cost $1,200,000 and includes purchasing the building, operational costs for two years, furnishings, planning and renovations, start-up costs and other expenses including legal and security. 

MDC is in the process of raising funds for the new center.

"Once we get someone off drugs, it's very important to keep them off drugs by providing a place where they can go where there is sober, clean activity and folks to support them," Allen said. "That's why a recovery center is so critically important." 

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